Codex Martialis: Weapons of the Ancient World is a 112 page weapon supplement for the Codex Martialis combat rules. As such, a copy of the main Codex Martialis rules is necessary. Although enough rule information is provided in the beginning that this book could conceivably be used as a standalone system, to really get the full benefit of the book you need to use the core Codex Martialis rules.

First Impressions

As with the main Codex Martialis, this pdf is sparsely illustrated with most of the artwork being drawn from historical, public domain sources. The lack of original artwork, borders, and backgrounds made this pdf a look a little less polished than something produced by a professional gaming company, but this didn’t detract in any major way from the content. I did notice a few editing errors such as run-on and incomplete sentences. However, thankfully, these did not interfere with the clarity in any major way.

A Deeper Look

The pdf starts with a brief overview of the Codex Martialis combat rules and then provides some supplementary rules for topics such as weapon breakage, disarming opponents, slashing an opponent’s hand, and fighting in enclosed spaces. I found these supplementary rules interesting and fairly well done. They do add a little extra complexity to the game, but not so much that they slow everything down. (Thankfully, there are no charts or tables to consult.) Like the core combat rules found in the Codex Martialis, these rules can make combat a lot more serious and deadly. As stated above, this supplement assumes that you have the Codex Martialis core rules, and makes many references to it.

After the rules section, there are about five pages covering the history of metallurgy and weapon development in the real world. For me, this was one of the highlights of the pdf. As someone who has an interest in history, I found this section well researched and useful. While most fantasy games tend to gloss over any mention of history of weapon development, I found that this offered a lot of insight as well a potential campaign hooks for a game.

Afterwords, the pdf goes on to provide statistics for various weapons. Only melee weapons are listed since missile weapons are saved for another supplement. The list of weapons was fairly comprehensive, with both historical European and Asian weapons being listed. Besides the combat statistics, the primary materials used to make the weapons and the broad era in which the weapons were developed are also listed. After each stat block a short summary of the weapon’s historical context as well as any author comments are listed as well.

Since the weapons use the Codex Martialis rules, each weapon has a different “feel” to it, with different weapons having advantages and disadvantages. For example, longer weapons, such as spears, have “reach” bonuses to hit at longer ranges, but cannot be used at close ranges. Although I have not had the opportunity to playtest every single weapon in the supplement, most of the weapon statistics seem pretty balanced and fair.

If I have one complaint about the supplement, it’s the lack of pictures for the weapons. Although there are quite a pictures provided, I wish every entry would have an illustration next to it.

Overall, this is an excellent supplement for anyone who is using the Codex Martialis rules. If you are looking for more weapon statistics or information about historical weapons, this is a supplement that is definitely worth investing in.